Rate Your Dog's Sense of Smell!

Image from Dog Spies, Scientific American

Image from Dog Spies, Scientific American

Dog's have incredible noses: it's how they "see" their world.  In her book Being a Dog,  Barnard College, Columbia University professor and canine researcher Alexandra Horowitz challenges us to consider what it's like "to be able to smell not just every bit of open food in the house but also to smell sadness in humans, or even the passage of time?"

But just how good a sniffer does your dog have and what exactly might breed have to do with his/her olfactory savvy?

Maybe, not as much as you think. Reporting on a study out of Budapest,   Scientific American blog Dog Spies explores how dogs of various breeds (as well as wolves) were lead through a scent detection test and scored accordingly.  

In an easily reenacted exercise, a researcher team led by Zita Polgárat at the Family Dog Project, walked each dog past a series of same containers to see if they could identify the one hiding a tidbit of raw turkey.   Though the results of the study are available to open access on PLOS One, let me offer a spoiler alert: some dogs way outperformed others.  Though breed proved to be a factor in the overall score, some non-scented breeds stood out.

Now, on a personal note of what this test can do for you and me.  I tested it out on two of my dogs, Boozle and Tally Ho.  See what I discovered!

Go give your dog the scent quiz. It's fun!  After you determine their sensory IQ, consider how harness his nose power could ease your daily frustration:

--Are you someone who loses your car keys or the remote?

 --Got a kid who implodes every time she can't find her phone?

--Got a partner who fusses over locating waylaid kitchen tools.  Don't argue- just call the dog!

In my book Modern Dog Parenting, St, Martins Press, I instruct how to transform the fun game of sniff and find into an incredible, exciting pastime or useful endeavor.  Go out and grab your copy and give it a go!   

Just remember not all dogs (like kids) are equal.  Start with the simplest exercise to see if scenting is your dog's calling, and have fun.  Remember life if adventure!  So grab your dog and c'mon let's play!

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